STUDIO: Tartan Video
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 97 Minutes
• Making Of Featurette
• Cast and Crew Interviews
• Director’s Sketchbook and Notes
• Original Theatrical Promotional Materials
• Trailers

The Pitch

Robert Altman’s The Company meets the monkey’s paw in the form of a magic step. Plus: young girls in school uniforms and ballet leotards.

The Humans

Ji-hyo Song, Han-byeol Park, An Jo, Ji-Yeon Park

The Nutshell

Yun Ji-seong (Ji-hyo Song) and Kim So-hie (Han-byeol Park) are best friends who also happen to be rivals in a ballet competition. They train together at an all-girls school for the arts. When Kim So-hie fully recovers from a knee injury, she appears to be the shoe-in to win the competition. Yun is torn between her affection for her best friend and the pressure she feels to win. She fines the answer in a local urban legend regarding some stairs.

Eom Hye-ju (An Jo) is a fellow student taking sculpture classes. She is overweight, terminally socially awkward and has a fixation on the more popular Kim So-hie. She tells Yun about a twenty-eight step set of stairs near the school. The urban legend surrounding these stairs is that if you count your steps while ascending them and find that there are twenty-nine, you can make a wish. Eom Hye-ju successfully finds that twenty-ninth step and wishes to be thin. Soon thereafter, Yun finds a much thinner Eom Hye-ju and goes to the stairs herself to wish to win the competition. And win Yun does after Kim So-hie falls down a different flight of stairs and becomes paralyzed from the waist down.

A third wish made on the stairs brings in the monkey’s paw slant with the return of a character in the worst kind of condition.

"Front row center! We’ll be the envy of our classmates when they’re watching
The Monsters of Tejano Korean Tour
from the nosebleed seats!"

The Lowdown

There is an underlying ambiguity to Wishing Stairs of whether there is actually anything supernatural going on at all. After the first wish made by Eom is made to be thin, we see that it has come true. Later, however, we find that Eom has lost the weight in the worst fashion possible as she takes amphetamines and has developed a particularly gruesome case of bulimia. When we follow Yun up the stairs as she seeks out the twenty-ninth step, we see she slips and loses count at one point. After her wish to win the competition, we are shown evidence that she sabotaged her friend’s efforts in the form of glass in her toe shoe. Even the accidental fall down the stairs that Kim So-hie takes, although not premeditated, looks a little on the intentional side. Later in the film when a character returns from the dead, it doesn’t seem that everyone can perceive her. Evidence is given backing each side of the supernatural/not supernatural argument.

This urban legend was spread by a dude.

First-time director Jae-yeon Yun helms the third film in the Whispering Corridors trilogy (also called the High School Horror series). As such she pulls some fantastic performances from her young cast, some of which are on their first film as well. Additionally, this is the most technically proficient of the three films. The editing is cleaner, the pacing tighter. There are a few visuals lifted from other, more famous Asian films. The crawling girls from Ju-on and Ringu make an appearance. We also have a scene with facial features obscured completely with hair. These are effective shots and used in context here. Still and all, original they’re not.

Wishing Stairs is not just a welcome addition to a trilogy, it’s a damn fine horror film in its own right. There is little to tie it to the other two films in the series other than reoccurring themes. Knowing this, it is unnecessary to see the other two movies to enjoy this one. They are fine films in their own right and it is recommended you watch them all. Seeing the progression of horror encapsulated in this trilogy is a treat.

"Today we’ll discuss putting one’s hands in the air like they just don’t care.
Tomorrow well start the chapter regarding weak rhymes."

The Package

The Wishing Stairs DVD has more extras included than the previous films in the series Whispering Corridors and Memento Mori combined. This thing is packed! The Making Of featurette is 35 minutes of interviews with the director and stars about the film and their characters. It’s always advised to watch any extras after having seen the film, but in this case especially. A lot of the story and reveals are talked about in this section. The cast and crew interviews is more like an extension of the previous featurette, although with no time taken showing scenes being shot. The director’s sketchbook and notes is broken up into four sections showing the director’s view on a few of the aspects from the film and the creation of the soundtrack. There are over thirty still frame shots of posters, pre-poster photos, alternate posters, hand drawn art and screencaptures from the film. Trailers for other Tartan Asia Extreme releases included on this set are for Memento Mori, Whispering Corridors, Tale of Two Sisters, Phone and Acacia.

This is a good grouping of materials and very satisfying for those looking for some plot-related answers.

"A little to the left… Oh yeah! That’s the spot!"

8.8 out of 10